I cannot begin to review ACOWAR without first reminding myself and you of it’s predecessors, A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) and A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF). There will be spoilers. At this point, it simply cannot be helped. But believe me, there are so many themes, motives, nuances, there is so much more than what I can describe hiding in these tomes so even if you read this review with all the spoilers, please read the books anyway!
Maas connects all the characters back together in this third installment. Many characters are given redemption arcs. At the end of ACOMAF, I felt sure that Tamlin was abusive and would never be able to act in a helpful manner, despite my work at a domestic violence shelter where I learned clearly that abusers can be good people in many aspects of their life except how they treat their significant other. Tamlin’s redemption arc took me by surprise and reminded me that people who do bad things to those we love are not entirely bad people, just misguided and not always sure how to best express their emotions. I’m glad that Maas spends time reminding readers of the complexity of people, even villainous people.
I didn’t like that all the High Lords brought Rhysand back from death. Although of course I feel that he deserves to live longer amongst his friends and work together with other High Lords, I also felt like this was a cheap attempt to hold the story together and make sure all the characters survived so Maas could write more books in the series. I’m more interested in how Feyre and their friends would handle the grief of Rhys dying than I am of a story in which they all continue to live on happily. I mean, seriously, all of them went into the war expecting at least one of their close friends to die and nobody stayed dead?
Maas didn’t really focus on any character development for those characters that had already been firmly cemented in our hearts, Mor, Azriel, Cassian, Feyre, and Rhysand. I was a little disappointed that there seems to be not much more to learn about them for the time being. Instead she focused her attention on villainous characters and Feyre’s sisters, giving readers new insight into the thoughts and feelings of different species/races/classes towards the war and Prythian.
ACOWAR ultimately was not my favorite book in the series. I will continue to read more if she writes more stories from Prythian, but I feel like ACOMAF may have been the best this series has to offer. ACOMAF felt like the prestige of the series.